Yesterday, when mr Dog and I took a walk in central Stockholm, we noticed red garden roses were still in bloom — here in the north, a week into december! Last year, by this time, we had had sub-zero temperatures and snow for an unusually long time already.
The information provided in the introduction to one of Steiner’s lectures tells about a christmas tree with 33 red roses. In this lecture he says:
The Tree of Paradise and the wood of the Cross are connected in a most wonderful way. Even though the Cross is always an Easter symbol, it deepens our conception of the Christmas Mystery too. We feel how in this night of Christ’s Nativity, new, upwelling life streams towards us, This thought is indicated in the fresh roses adorning this Tree; they say to us: the Tree of the Holy Night has not yet become the wood of the Cross but the power to become that wood is beginning to arise in it. The Roses, growing out of the green, are a symbol of the Eternal which springs from the Temporal.
Other accounts, however, talk about 30 red roses and 3 white ones. One such account is provided by a German waldorf school [pdf]. The document tells us that the 30 red roses symbolize the life of Jesus until he was baptized in the river Jordan, at age 30, and the three white roses represent the three years remaining years during which he was Christ, son of god, ‘divinity’ incarnated, not an ordinary man, so to speak.
The roses can be real, fresh roses (as during Steiner’s 1906 lecture, and as he explicitly indicates). This is perhaps unpractical in many circumstances, so the roses can also be manufactured from other materials, like silk paper or even paper.